HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out portions of the state's sex-offender registration law yesterday, telling lawmakers they violated the constitution's requirement that bills that become law must be confined to a single subject.
The justices ruled that a set of changes made to Megan's Law in 2004 was not constitutional, noting that the legislation also included such measures as a two-year statute of limitations on asbestos actions, the jurisdictional parameters of park police and revisions to real-estate law.
The court then put its decision on hold for three months to allow the Legislature to find a remedy.
"We will stay our decision, as we have done under similar circumstances, in order to provide a reasonable amount of time for the General Assembly to consider appropriate remedial remedies, and to allow for a smooth transition period," Justice Debra Todd wrote for the five-justice majority.
As revised in 2004, Megan's Law created a searchable online database of offenders, set new punishments for offenders who did not register and added luring and institutional sexual assault to the list of offenses that require 10-year registration.
It also set notification rules for out-of-state offenders who move to Pennsylvania, altered duties of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board and established community notification about sexually violent offenders.
Todd said the single-subject rule, which dates to 1864 and has been a factor in several high-profile cases, gives people confidence that they can weigh in before a bill is passed, and helps lawmakers know what they are voting on ahead of time.